There are so many things to do in Tofino. A weekend (or 2 days) in Tofino is just the right amount of time to experience everything this laid back surf town has to offer. However, you might just find yourself wanting to stay a bit longer…
With an awe-inspiring coastline, relaxed atmosphere and surprisingly impressive food scene, it’s easy to lose yourself in time and let the days roll on like the waves.
This 2-day itinerary will give you all the best things to do in Tofino, the best eateries and more!
There is also helpful information on where to stay, the best guided tours, and how to get around.
Whether you’re in Tofino for 2 days or longer, it’s somewhere you should definitely visit whilst on Vancouver Island.
Let us know in the comments what you think of this Tofino travel guide!
Best Things to do in Tofino
So, you’re wondering:
What is there to do in Tofino?
Use this 2-day Tofino itinerary for inspiration and to help plan your trip. You can navigate around the different attractions from here.
There are so many exciting things to do in Tofino…
You might just want to stay longer.
Things to do in Tofino Itinerary - Day 1
Whale Watching Boat Trip
Whale watching is a must whilst on the West Coast and therefore naturally forms part of our itinerary for 2 days in Tofino.
You could see several types of whales including Orcas, Humpbacks and Gray whales as well as different species of sea bird, seals and other marine life.
You’ll also get to see the beauty of the surrounding islands and islets from the water whilst learning about the history of the area and the wildlife from your guide.
I was blown away by the whole experience.
One thing I particularly like about whale watching tours in Canada is the respect they have for the wildlife (generally speaking – it’s still important to research the company!). They commit to practising safe, environmentally conscious whale watching.
You get to see the whales in their natural environment, without feeling guilty about disrupting them.
Seeing a whale in the wild is a truly magical experience, and one that you’ll never forget.
Cox Bay is well known for its surf and long sandy beach.
But that’s not all it has to offer…
With a bit of an adventurous scramble, you can reward yourself with one of the best views around.
This short hike is one of the few remaining Tofino Secrets.
The hike is located at the southern end of the beach – you can park at the Cox Bay parking and walk down the beach to where there is an obvious summit.
The trail is barely marked out and winds up through fairly dense shrubbery. You’ll also need to scramble over some large rocks at the start and the trail is best accessed at LOW tide as it starts from the beach.
Distance: 2.5 km
Time Required: 1 hour (including photography time at the top!)
Ucluelet – Also located in the Pacific Rim Natonal Park, approximately 40km from Tofino, Ucluelet is more than worthy of a day or afternoon. More of an ‘off the beaten path’ town than Tofino, Ucluelet – or ‘Ukee’ as it’s affectionately known by locals – is packed with outdoor activity and eco-tourism activities.
Surf at Long Beach – Iconic long beach is much as the name suggests – the longest beach on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Something of a surfer’s paradise.
Zip Lining – Tofino is an awesome place to zip line. Soaring above ancient rainforest and canyons is an unbelievable experience.
Guided tours in Tofino
Best Eateries in Tofino
TacoFino – Trust me, you’ll get the hype once you’ve been
Wolf and Fog – Great food and drinks for dinner
Tofitian – Best coffee in Tofino
Rhino – Nice coffee spot in the centre – great bagels
Wildside Grill – UNBELIEVABLY good tuna burger
Where to stay in Tofino
There are a number of accommodation options available in Tofino ranging from camp spots to plush resorts.
The resort is made up of cozy beehive-style cabins and is located right on the beach. There’s also a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi – perfect for relaxing your muscles after a long day in the ocean!
For an adventurous camping trip, Bella Pacifica Campground is second to none. Located right on Mackenzie beach, it’s the ideal spot to have a fire on the beach at sunset, before sneaking back to your tent.
Make sure to ask for a beachfront spot, it’s worth the extra $10!
Tofino Travel Tips
My thoughts on Tofino
I fell in love with Tofino. It was the kind of place I could imagine living for a Summer.
OK, I’m partial to a surf, but that’s not all that this place has to offer.
You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the beaches.
The town has a nice chilled-out atmosphere and the food scene is awesome.
It’s a nice size, too. There’s a good amount going on; enough bars and hotspots to keep you occupied in the evening but not too big that it doesn’t still feel like an authentic surf village.
One of my favorite things about Tofino is the fact there are no chain franchises! In fact, the local municipality made a conscious effort to ban large-format retail and fast-food chains back in 2010 in order to preserve its laid-back character.
Let’s just say, it worked.
Costs in Tofino
What you spend in Tofino depends completely on what you want to do.
For example, the more tours you go on, the more you will spend. These costs are non-essential, and you can take part in as many or as little as you like depending on your budget.
The beach, on the other hand, is totally free.
Certain costs such as food, accommodation, and travel are non-negotiable.
Here’s a rough breakdown of essential travel costs in Tofino:
Hotel room for 2: $150 – 300 Campsite Pitch for 2: $35 – 50
Bus: Free – $5 Bike rental: $35 / day Bus from Nanaimo/Victoria: $60 – 80 return
Taxi Available: No (well there’s 1, apparently, but I didn’t see it)
Dinner: $25 Take-out meal: $10 – 15
Beer in local bar/pub: $5 Beer in high-end bar: $8 Wine: $10 Six-pack from the brewery: $15
How to get to Tofino
To get from the BC mainland to Vancouver Island, you will need to sail with BC ferries.
By far the easiest way to get to Tofino is to drive. Once on Vancouver Island, it’s roughly a 3-hour drive over to Tofino heading North West.
If you don’t have your own car, you have 2 options for rentals.
Rent a car in Vancouver and take it on the ferry and then on to Tofino. This option is best if you want to visit anywhere else in the BC mainland.
Board the ferry as a foot passenger and then rent a car in Nanaimo/Victoria and drive up to Tofino from there. This option tends to be slightly cheaper.
Check road conditions, weather alerts, delays, and construction that may affect your route on DriveBC.
The closest major airport to Tofino is Vancouver International Airport (YVR). However, as Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island you’ll still need to make your way onto the island (see driving below).
There are also 2 airports on the island – Nanaimo (YCD) and Comox (YQQ) – with daily flights here from Vancouver and Calgary.
As with getting to Tofino, the best way to get around once you arrive is by car. The village itself is very small, and you can easily wander the shops and cafes in an hour. However, many of the beaches, hikes and other attractions are sprawled along the peninsula.
As such, the best way to get around is either by car or by bicycle.
The weather in Tofino is considerably better in the Summer.
Winter tends to bring A LOT of rain. If you plan to enjoy Tofino for all it’s natural beauty and want to spend a lot of time outdoors and/or camp, Spring/Summer would undoubtedly be the best time to visit.
What’s more, the ocean on the Pacific coast of Canada is hardly balmy at any time of year, but it’s a lot more bearable in Summer. Some days it’s even pleasant. And by pleasant I mean you won’t need a hood on your wetsuit or booties.
Summer also tends to be when the village is livelier with local events. There is a weekly market in town on Saturdays, for example.
That being said, Tofino is far from just a Summer destination.
Winter brings better surf and better whale watching conditions. You also won’t have to battle with crowds at the local eateries and coffee shops!